...there’s a deeper
reason for my thrill-seeking journey through the literary dark...
I killed somebody. But don’t
worry. It’s nobody you know…yet!
I killed is a
character in my next book—HOUSE OF WOLVES—which releases August 12th. I
wish I could tell you who got killed and why they had to die
but that would ruin the surprise! And the SURPRISE is just part of what
makes writing a thriller—as well as reading one—so much fun.
Surprise? you ask.
Don’t you know who’s going to die in your books? Don’t you plan that
before page one is even written? The simple answer is NO. I
sometimes wish I did. I sometimes wish my characters behaved like they
were supposed to, that they didn’t toddle off into dark corners and
cause unexpected mischief. But they do, and that’s exactly why I love
writing thrillers so much.
Now, please understand that my
way of writing a story isn’t the same as everyone’s. Many authors know
detail before they press a single key on the keyboard. They know how
the pictures hang on their characters walls and how much lint is in
their pockets. But not me. Heck, sometimes I’m not even sure what color
their hair is until they look in a fictional mirror. And for me, that’s
what keeps things interesting. It’s what keeps things exciting! After
all, how should I expect you to be surprised if I’m
not? Let me explain a deeper reason for my thrill-seeking
the literary dark.
After my first
thriller—ILLUMINATED—came out, people asked me why I didn’t include
music as part of the plot, or the characters. It was a good
question—I’d been a music producer and songwriter for over a decade. At
first I thought I’d missed an opportunity to blend my two
careers. But then I realized
something: I already had. The
plot and the
of my books were music to me.
laptop keyboard in my little office was no different than “playing” my
piano keyboard in the studio. Both were part of a continual creative
flow. And while the results were different (3 ½ mins of music versus
300+ pages of a manuscript!), the source for both was a passion to create
An author friend of mine, who
was also a record producer, once explained the link between
music-making and book-writing like this (and I’ll admit that I’m
paraphrasing here…) “Matt, when I first moved to town, I thought I knew
it all when it came to music. I understood all the theory, memorized
all the correct chord changes, used all the right terminology. But then
I started seeing these guys in the studio, these guys who could walk in
and, without looking at a note, just sit down and jam.
Maybe they knew the rules and decided to throw them out. Maybe they’d
never had a lick of training in their lives. Either way, they blew me
away. They had that amazing gut instinct, that God-given feel for what
would move people.
I knew when it came to music it
was too late for me. I’d already been ‘ruined’ by knowing too much.
That’s why I decided, when it came to novel writing, that I was just
going to jam.
It was good advice.
Yeah, sometimes things don’t work out. And sometimes I get caught in a
dead-end alley with a dead-end character. But it’s worth the risk,
because being a ‘feel guy’ resonates with who I am as a creative
And that’s why, as I’m
writing this, I’m also dreaming up a crazy way—an even crazier
way than last time!—to kill someone in my next book. Not that
it’ll stick. By the time I write that chapter it will have changed a
hundred times. And that’s why I’ll have so much fun writing it. And,
hopefully, it’s also why you’ll have so much fun reading it!